October 15, 2021

Be Our Guest / Gary Diehl

Despite vaccination status, we must seek truth and be united in Christ

I would like to offer a response to a letter in the Sept. 24 issue of The Criterion (“A Catholic scientist offers insight into morality of COVID-19 vaccines”). The writer of this letter was responding to a letter in the Sept. 10 issue (“Where COVID vaccines are concerned, someone must take a stand for aborted babies”).

Like the Catholic scientist, I also have a background in pharmaceutical science. Although I do not hold a doctoral degree, I do have 43 years of varied pharmacy experience prior to retiring in 2014, a span in which not only the industry has drastically changed but my perspective of the pharmaceutical industry has changed as well.

In spite of the headline used with the Sept. 10 letter, I did not construe that it was written specifically about the COVID vaccines, but spoke as much to the immoral evolution of the pharmaceutical industry itself.

Even though the “cell lines” being used in the development of two COVID vaccines are derived from repeated replication of an “alleged” aborted fetal “cell line” dating back to the 1970’s and not derived from current abortion, I would question the morality of this ongoing process and other research which may be using cells from current aborted babies.

In support of this concern, I would like to reference a teaching given in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which states: “It is immoral to produce human embryos intended for exploitation as disposable biological material” (#2275).

Harvesting fetal tissue from aborted babies, and/or replicating a “cell line” over and over that was taken from an aborted baby and using the same for scientific research, and, ultimately for profit, is indeed exploitation.

Catholic teaching encourages vaccination, which in some instances may be considered a charitable act of the recipient, but it is not a moral obligation. Catholic teaching also states that we must follow our true moral conscience.

When I was active in pharmacy practice, I was occasionally confronted with differing restrictions between federal and state law, and I was always required to follow the more restrictive of the two. In like manner, when our true moral conscience is in effort to honor God, and, though it may seem “more restrictive” than our teaching may allow, it too must take precedence for the individual and it must be followed.

Vaccination is an individual decision which may be based on multiple circumstances and facts.

Vaccinated or not, we must never judge one another. We should always be seeking truth and always be united in Christ.

(Gary Diehl is a member of St. Lawrence Parish in Lawrenceburg.)

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